Florida leaves ERIC compact that helps voter roll accuracy

Florida accused group of not making changes to secure data, remove partisanship

Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The state of Florida is no longer taking part in a multi-state compact that helps with keeping voter rolls accurate when people move to different states.

The Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, is a bipartisan compact of more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia. The member states get reports on people who have moved, had died, if there were duplicate registrations, etc. The goal is to make it easier to update voter rolls and make sure the rolls are accurate.

On Monday, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced Florida was terminating its ERIC membership, as have Missouri and West Virginia.

Byrd’s statement says ERIC has not made changes to increase the protection of confidential voting data, nor has it limited the power of “ex-officio partisan members of the ERIC board.” The changes were suggested last year by “a working group of member states,” Byrd said.

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“Florida has tried to back reforms to increase protections, but these protections were refused. Therefore, we have lost confidence in ERIC,” Byrd said.

The ERIC board of directors is made up of elections officials from each of the member states, as well as two non-voting members.

Last week Shane Hamlin, ERIC’s executive director, issued an open letter countering misinformation about the nonprofit, he said. He said ERIC is never connected to any state’s voter registration system, and they use “widely accepted security protocols for handling the data we utilize to create the reports.”

He also said the servers that house ERIC’s information are stored in a secure data center in the United States, with remote access limited only to employees who need to use it.

“We will remain focused on our mission by providing our members with actionable data they can use to keep their voter rolls more accurate, investigate potential illegal activity, and offer voter registration information to those who may need it,” Hamlin said.

The move by Florida is surprising. Gov. DeSantis brought Florida into ERIC in 2019. In 2021, spokesperson Christina Pushaw told News 6′s Mike DeForest that it was done as part of efforts to enhance election security.

“Though the system is not perfect, it does help ensure election integrity and deter potential fraud,” Pushaw said.

In January of this year, a report by the Office of Election Crimes and Security said ERIC was instrumental in finding more than 1,000 voters who may have voted in Florida as well another ERIC member state.

But, despite being a bipartisan effort, right-wing groups have put increasing pressure on Republicans in the last year to pull out of ERIC, alleging ERIC was part of a left-wing election conspiracy.

Louisiana has also pulled out of ERIC, and new Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen has said that he wants to pull the state out of ERIC.

In February, Allen made much of the fact that the so-called ERIC office in Washington was a virtual shared workspace.

Hamlin addressed that in the open letter, saying member states are well aware that the address is only a mailing address and employees at the headquarters work from home instead to reduce operating costs.

Florida elections supervisors were not alerted ahead of time about the ERIC announcement.

Lake County Elections Supervisor Alan Hays, who is a Republican, told News 6 he has confidence in Secretary Byrd’s judgment. He also said Florida’s participation in ERIC was very helpful in maintaining voter rolls.

“While this sudden action caught all of us in the FL elections community by surprise, our association of supervisors of elections has a track record of a very high degree of professionalism and we shall endeavor to continue to administer elections at the same high level of competence our voters deserve and expect,” Hays said.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.